The FBHVC monthly report

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The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

June 2020

by Robin Astle.

From FBHVC Newsletter 2020 No. 2

Legislation by Dave Daniel


Welcome to the new non-EU Britain! (Although at the moment it feels very much like the old EU one.)

This quarter brings further developments which have an impact on historic vehicles, and again a period where there is little clarity about the future.

Clean Air Zones & Low Emission Zones

Clean Air Zones, Low Emission Zones or Ultra Low Emission Zones, which I am increasingly referring to as CAZ/LEZ remain proposed for many areas, and the future seems to include a myriad of road user restrictions all enforced by Automatic Numberplate Recognition [ANPR] and civil penalty charges [PCN’s].

No further significant developments to CAZ/LEZ have been published. York has claimed a “voluntary LEZ” as a result of agreeing with all local bus operators to use low emission buses in the historic city centre, and Harrow, currently outside the North Circular and therefore outside the planned extended London ULEZ have indicated their interest in extending the ULEZ to their borough, subject to getting funding to do so. Bradford has published an early-stage proposal to introduce a Low Emission Zone but excluding cars and motorcycles. We are currently looking at this and will be responding.

There have been several on-line checking systems introduced.

Transport for London have a checking system for their ULEZ although this is known to be inaccurate at times, and doesn’t include some London Authorities plans to introduce “school run” car bans around London schools, or to impose raised charges for having resident’s parking permits where non-compliant older cars are parked on the street.

There is a national CAZ checking system, newly introduced, which seems to check CAZ zones in Leeds and Birmingham (neither of which exist yet) but ignores London’s ULEZ. There have been queries about its accuracy too.

Scotland has introduced its own simple checking system which seems not to include any historic vehicle exemptions which have been proposed and does not mention any of the above.

Clearly there is some way to go before your Satnav will advise you of any upcoming zones and direct you to avoid them or find you a car park where you can stop while you pay all the charges online!

At this stage however, apart from the central London ULEZ the establishment of all of these zones is on hold pending implementation of the ANPR systems, which seem to need an increasingly complex set of variable parameters to manages all the zones, and a huge interfacing increase with the DVLA systems. The current target for completion of this work was July 2020 but has now been extended to August.

A Legal Conundrum

When the London ULEZ was introduced, this was done by a Local Authority Traffic Management Order made in 2014, and with variations confirmed by the then Mayor of London in 2015.

Under this variation, a ‘non-chargeable vehicle’ included a vehicle which is…

“an exempt vehicle within the meaning of paragraph I A of Schedule 2 to the 1994 Act [i.e defined as a tax-exempt Historic Vehicle] and particulars of the vehicle are for the time being entered in the register.”

A vehicle also qualifies for exemption “if it was constructed before 1st January 1973 and particulars of the vehicle are for the time being entered in the register.”

You will see that for both exemptions there is a requirement for the vehicle to be registered with Transport for London to qualify for the exemption.

However, what TfL’s website says is somewhat different:

“If your vehicle meets the above criteria and is registered in the UK, it is automatically exempt and you don't need to register with us. If your vehicle meets the above criteria but is registered outside the UK, you are also exempt, but will need to register with us. Details on how you can register will be available closer to the time.”

The disparity is that TfL’s guidance claims that UK historic vehicles are ‘automatically exempt’ and do not need to register, which contradicts the legal Order, but does seem to be how the ULEZ actually operates.

My predecessor, Bob Owen, had noted this and made enquiries, but never received a satisfactory explanation.

More recently, the draft Orders for the Birmingham and Leeds Clean Air Zones contain similar wording and appear to have the same requirement – namely that to obtain Historic Vehicle status exemption, you would have to register the vehicle with the Local Authority concerned. In both cases however, council officials have been adamant that this is not how the schemes will operate and that Historic Vehicles will be automatically exempt.

Later proposals by other councils where a draft Order has been published do not contain this anomaly.

In the past few weeks, the Federation has been looking at a new Direct Vision standard and permit system for lorries entering London, introduced by Transport for London. The TfL website outlining the scheme clearly states that tax-exempt Historic Vehicles are exempt, however in looking at the legal Order made by TfL, no such exemption could be found, although TfL had awarded itself powers to make further unspecified exemptions. An enquiry with TfL to clarify this remains unanswered at this time.

This does create a serious conundrum. Technically if you were to drive your historic vehicle into one of these zones without registering, you would not be exempt from charges and could face receiving a PCN. In practice however, it seems you would not because you are effectively invited participate in a scheme with diverges from the apparent legal requirement by the Local Authority who wrote the Order.

On this basis, a ‘cautious’ approach to the London, Leeds and Birmingham systems would be to register your vehicle irrespective of whether it was claimed to be necessary, in strict compliance with the legal Order.

This remains an issue which is unresolved and one where we continue to seek clarity. Clearly it leaves our members in a rather uncertain position when driving in these areas.

New Cars

Readers will have seen the widely-reported proposals to ban the sale of new liquid-fuelled cars after 2035 or 2032. This is of course outside our field of interest, but will have a bearing on the take-up of non-liquid fuelled vehicles such as electric cars, and in the long term, the availability of fuels.

Driving Abroad Post Brexit (From the FBHVC Website)

Driving licences and international driving permits

You will still need to carry your UK driving licence with you.

You may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU and EEA countries from 1 January 2021.

The type of IDP that you may need will depend on the countries you will drive through. Further detail on this will be available later in 2020.

You will not need an IDP to drive when visiting Ireland if you have a UK driving licence.

You can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office.

An IDP costs £5.50 and drivers must:

  • be a Great Britain or Northern Ireland resident
  • have a full UK driving licence
  • be 18 or over

Insurance for your vehicle, caravan or trailer

A ‘green card’ is proof that you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You should plan to carry one for the vehicle you are driving in the EU and EEA from 1 January 2021.

You will need to carry multiple green cards if:

  • you have fleet insurance – you’ll need a green card for each vehicle
  • your vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan - you’ll need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer / caravan (you need separate trailer insurance in some countries)
  • you have 2 policies covering the duration of your trip, for example, if your policy renews during the journey

Contact your vehicle insurance provider 1 month before you travel to get green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer.

Vehicle registration documents

If you’re taking your vehicle to the EU for less than 12 months, you should carry one of the following documents with you:

  • your vehicle log book (V5C), if you have one
  • a VE103 to show you’re allowed to use your hired or leased vehicle abroad

Trailer registration

You will still need to register some commercial and non-commercial trailers before towing them to or through most EU and EEA countries.

GB stickers and number plates

Display a Great Britain (GB) sticker on the rear of the vehicle and trailer, even if the vehicle has a number plate with the Euro symbol or a GB national identifier.

You do not need to display a GB sticker to drive in Ireland.

What to do if you’re involved in a road accident

If you’re involved in a road accident in an EU country you should in the first instance contact your insurer.

From 1 January 2021, any legal proceedings against either the responsible driver or the insurer of the vehicle will need to be brought in the EU or EEA country where the accident happened. You might have to make your claim in the local language.

You will not get compensation in some countries if the accident is caused by an uninsured driver or if the driver cannot be traced.

Get legal advice if you need more information about this.



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